We look forward to the summers when schedules change, often giving us and our kids more time to relax and unwind from the stress of the school year. Many of us book annual family vacations and/or enroll our kids in camp and gratefully we find ourselves with less structured days with more free time on our hands.
A time to rejoice, right?
Well, no- not always.
My personal experience has been that shifting schedules, for myself and/or my daughter, often leads to a semi panic attack, even if the changes are positive ones. Why?
Folks with ADHD thrive on structure; it’s how we get things done with less anxiety. It offers our brain a road map for getting from A to B. Lack of structure can make us feel like we’re floating in a black pit of scatter- checking emails too often, daydreaming, and just getting off track in general.
No more 7am breakfasts and “beat the bus” schedules. No more firm 8:30pm bedtimes and 4:00 homework sessions. No more M W F soccer practice.
What a relief, right?
For many with ADD, this transition into summer can be almost as stressful as the school year. We’ve forgotten to sign our kids up for camp or basketball school and are horrified that our kids will be sitting home all summer in front of the TV. We then realize that we’re trapped without a babysitter and wonder how we’re going to get to work.
This is fun?? What’s a mom with ADD to do?
5 Steps to Keep Your Sanity This ADD Summer
- Try to keep bedtime schedules the same for now, and gradually allow for later bedtimes and wake times. This will ease their internal clocks into the new routine and help to avoid crankiness and sleep disturbance. Still…keep them on some sort of a sleep schedule if at all possible.
- Start searching NOW for structured activities for the kids: swim class, camp, volunteer work, etc. Too much unstructured free time for kids (and adults) with ADHD can create stress. You may find some acting out, as kids will search for stimuli and often not the good kind!
- Engage the entire family with summer planning. If a vacation is on the horizon, discuss ahead of time where you’ll be going and what everyone will be doing. When you open this up to the kids, they will appreciate the chance to participate in the planning, thus avoiding arguments or tantrums. If a trip is not possible, talk to your kids to see what they’d like to do with their free time. Find compromises so that everyone is happy.
- Be aware that change is hard for you and your child. Try to prepare the kids ahead of time so they have time to acclimate. If family is coming to visit next month, don’t wait until the day before to discuss it and how it will affect schedules, sleeping arrangements, etc.
- Don’t forget YOUR needs. As moms, we are always working at setting up schedules, meals, entertaining, holidays and much more. Maybe this is the summer YOU spend time away by booking a weekend away with girlfriends. There’s nothing wrong with going solo- finding a B & B in a cute town, giving you a chance to have leisurely mornings while exploring shops and attractions.
What about you? What can you do to get away and re-charge your batteries or explore your interests and talents? Share your ideas in the Comment section below.